Friday, March 27, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

I got some great news yesterday and since singing it from the rooftops is not practical, I thought I'd sing it from my virtual rooftop. (That way, more people hear it, too! And my neighbors can't throw rocks at me to make me shut up!)

I was looking at the UVU summer catalog, and was bummed that the English department is offering no night classes. I had decided to take the final science class for my general ed requirements, which I can do online, but Meteorology is nothing I can get too excited over. So I was looking ahead to the fall classes and found a lovely night class called Creative Processes and Imaginative Writing - fun! Knowing I am getting close to finishing up this Associate's Degree, I decided to email my advisor to get some advice. How close am I really? What do I do with all of those business credits that are just sitting around?

Here's the great news: After my science class, I have a grand total of ONE business class to take and then I'll have completed my Associates!! One business class that I can take online this summer! This kills so many birds with one stone that the Federal Wildlife Fund is going to be knocking on my door. First, I get a nice challenge for the summer. Second, none of the time I spent taking business classes is going to get wasted - it will actually count for something. Third, it clears up all of my conflicted feelings. And Fourth, by the end of the summer I will have a degree in my hand!

I cannot even describe to you the triumphant feeling I had when I realized that I was in the home stretch. The finish line is in sight, and in a matter of weeks, I'm going to be crossing it! I've been working towards this steadily for five years, and I'm not the most patient person. To go five years and still have nothing but my superior intellect to show for it, well, that's pretty hard for my superior intellect to take. :) With every goal you want milestones - you want to know that all of this work is paying off, and this is my payoff. I am so thrilled I can barely stand it.

I had an interesting conversation with my professor a few weeks ago. She handed out our midterm report cards, and I had gotten 100% on every quiz and 102% on the two exams (extra credit) so I knew I was in great shape. One of my quiz scores was marked as a zero, with a big fat F next to it. I had never missed a class, so I knew that was wrong and I talked to her about it after.

Dr. Vogel: I'll look in my files and see if I misplaced your quiz.
Me: Thanks, I appreciate it.
Dr. V: You know that I drop the lowest score, right? So this quiz isn't affecting your grade.
Me: I know, but what if I need you to drop a different score later?
Dr. V: You know that this entire group of quizzes and homework only makes up 10% of your grade, right?
Me: Yeah, I know.
Dr. V: And you know that you currently have a 99% in the class, right?

Here I was, making this woman search through her massive stack of paperwork for my one quiz that makes up about 1/2 of 1 percent of my grade. I felt kind of petty at that point, but all I could see was that F. Plus, I was thisclose to having a perfect score in this class. How often am I perfect at anything? Never! But I want to be, and I'm good enough at school that this is where my perfectionistic tendencies shine through.

The other thing, which I told my professor because she's a mom and must understand this, is that motherhood is without accolades. There is no cheering crowd, there is no stage to walk across, there is no fancy cap and gown and diploma. There is no graduation - in fact, there's no end in sight. If I worked a regular job, I'd get a paycheck as my reward for a job well done. But motherhood gives you 24 hours a day of work, and stress, and guilt, without anything tangible to show for it. I don't get praise - the most I get is commiseration, because everyone I know is in the same boat. I'm proud of the fact that we all do it anyways, without the fanfare, because raising children is such an important thing to do. But if there's something in my life where I have the opportunity to excel, to get an A or a perfect score, to feel that sense of accomplishment for achieving a goal, then you better believe I'm going to take it.

I hope this doesn't come across as self-centered or egotistic. I really feel like every mom needs some recognition of themselves as people - as an important person outside of their role as mother. I think this is the "Individual Worth" that they talk about in Young Women's, but it gets so hard to see yourself as a woman with value and worth when your job is caring for these children whose worth (or at least, potential) seems so much greater.

So next week I can apply for graduation. How amazing is that?! Of course, it's not the end of my schooling - I've got the Bachelor's degree in my sights now, without all of those pesky business credits dangling in my face, saying "Use me!" Instead of feeling like I've finished a marathon, maybe I've just finished one leg of a triathlon. Whatever - it doesn't really matter to me. I am feeling victorious, I'm feeling like I've achieved something, like I've accomplished something.

Maybe I'll still sing it from my literal rooftop, just for fun. That's how excited I am!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Laptop Love

I had a spending breakthrough yesterday. Most of you know that I have a slight problem with shopping, in that I am compulsively driven to find the best deal possible, and frequently that means buying something for the lowest dollar amount possible. After a car-buying fiasco that has left my family being the last people on the planet who have to manually crank down their windows, I am attempting to uncouple good deals from lowest price. You would be so proud of me - I did not buy the cheapest model MacBook laptop yesterday, and I am so happy I did.

How does Apple make products that are so fantastic to look at that even a non-techie person like myself feels a gut-level desire to own them? They could make a pooper-scooper look sexy, and if they added an iconic white earbud to it, there would be a pooper-scooper in every college students backpack. Ryan's theory is that a race of super-intelligent beings came to take over the Earth, took one look at our current PC design and remarked to themselves, This is going to be too easy. And then they founded the Apple Company.

After doing the self-imposed many, many hours of research and price comparison, I found myself in the showroom of the local Mac store, pretty convinced that the lowest end MacBook would be sufficient for me. After all, I was basically looking to upgrade to something more reliable with a larger hard drive than the 30gb I currently had, and any laptop would meet those requirements. And I'm not one to be lured into paying an extra $300 just to get more color options. While waiting for the salesman to walk over, though, I glanced at the one-step-up model and found: The Trackpad.

Sweet mother of all that is holy. I love that trackpad. You have to understand the perfect functioning of this all-too-often overlooked piece of a laptop. Normally you've got an area for your finger to act like the mouse, pointing and moving the cursor, and then you've got a button (or two) for the mouse buttons. The MacBook has one large area for moving around the screen and the Entire Area Is Also A Button. All I have to do is tap my finger anywhere on the trackpad, and it registers a click. Plus, it incorporates some of the functionality of the iPod Touch screen, where you slide your fingers different ways to make it do different things. Pinch your fingers to zoom out, pull it back to zoom in. Flip through pages of documents or photos. Scroll down with two fingers along the trackpad and it's almost a love caress.

The Trackpad is to my new laptop what power sliding doors could have been to my minivan. I opted for manual doors, and every time I have to hike around the van to close the door after children with atrophied biceps who can't possibly close the door themselves, I curse myself for not spending the extra thousands of dollars for that feature. I looked at the next four years of laptopping and knew I could not live with a regular clicking trackpad now that my eyes had been opened to the possibilities. I know the arguments: You grew up without Apple's Trackpad and you turned out just fine. What about all of the starving children in Ethiopia - none of them have two-fingered scrolling. How can you live with this luxury when there are thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of PC users that will forever be toiling away at their clunky, two-button touchpad.

Look. There will always be inequality in the world. That's no reason for me not to celebrate.

One other thing that I am loving is the new version of iPhoto. It's always been a great program, and I've always not spent the money to upgrade to the newest versions, so iPhoto '09 was a real treat. I imported my existing library, and when I next saw my pictures they were neatly stacked in piles according to date, piles that I could flip through with one swipe of a finger and see all of the pictures at a glance. Apparently it also uses the camera's GPS coordinates to place all of the photo locations on a map. I don't know why that's important, but it sure seems cool. Oh, and check this out: It has face recognition software, so once you label a couple of pictures with people's names, it goes through your entire library and labels everyone. All of this means that with absolutely no effort on my part, I can have all of my photos instantly organized by date, by location (i.e. every trip to Maryland), or by person. As always I can edit the photos, make slideshows from them, burn it to dvd, upload directly to Facebook, order a photo book. In any other company's hands, this program would be clunky and unwieldy and difficult to use, but it's Apple, so it is perfectly elegant.

There's probably tons of other things this computer can do that I haven't figured out yet. The kids love a program called Photo Booth, which uses the built-in camera to take pictures of you, which you can then play around with. Personally, I don't see the attraction, but Ryan and the boys played with this program for over an hour. Here are some of the results:

Bunch of wierdos, if you ask me.

So possibly my love of Apple products is speeding the world towards our eventual doom at the hands of aliens/product designers, but frankly, I don't care. If all us Earthlings can come up with is Microsoft, maybe we deserve to be destroyed. Or better yet, let's welcome our new overlords, they promise to make our world a more beautiful place.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Mother Of Invention

It is 2:13 a.m. on Day 8 of The Cold, and I'm not sure how much longer I can take it. This is a war of attrition and to be honest, the troops are running low on morale. If you recall, I named the illness I had in Europe the Parisian Death Virus - that was high on intensity but low on staying power. This cold is lasting for so long that it almost doesn't need a name - it's starting to just be the new normal. And for me not to name something this vicious is a sign of how sick I really am.

However, since I've had nothing but time on my weakened hands, time to sit and think about all of the great things I could be doing if my body hadn't betrayed me, I've come up with a brief list of ideas that would make dealing with the common (or Uncommon) cold a little easier.

1. Cough Syrup That Doesn't Taste Like Poison. I can't believe no one has come up with this before now. Do they make it taste so bad on purpose, so people don't chug the stuff like it's Kool-Aid? You know, the way they add that rotten egg smell to natural gas? It's the only excuse I can think of. Health care is a multi-billion dollar industry, with some of the brightest minds in the world innovating miracle cures every day, and the best they could come up with for coughing is a liquid that looks like anti-freeze and tastes like black licorice? I don't know about you, but I think if the ladies on '9 to 5' had slipped some of this in Dabney Coleman's coffee instead of rat poison, he might have caught on. Just saying.

2. Cough-Powered Wind Mills. There is so much potential energy wasted every day in a sick household, and I'd like to reclaim some of that with a tabletop windmill that harnesses coughs. It could provide energy for my humidifier, or possibly the television that has now replaced me as a parent to my two youngest children. If it could also capture the snoring from both me and my sick husband, we'd feel a lot better about being sick because, hey! We're saving the world!

3. Body Replacement. The engineering for this one might be a little tricky, but go with me for a minute. My (obviously) adroit mind is trapped inside a failing body, so my thought is to take my soul/spirit/mind/essence/what-have-you out of my body and into a replacement body. That way my real body can go and recuperate and I can continue to function at my normal capacity. It's like if my car were in an accident, no one would expect me to keep using it - I'd take it to the auto body shop and drive around in a rental until my car is fixed. Same concept.

4. Rent-A-Mom. With both Ryan and myself out of commission, what we really need around here is a Mom. Someone to cook and clean and keep up with the laundry and interact with the kids so that their only contact with other humans is not whoever answers the phone number from their favorite infomercial. We need someone around here to take care of us - the kids because they're kids, and us because, well, deep down we're still kids too. And the laundry pile is starting to be daunting.

Well, that's all I've got for now, but I thought I'd post it so that someone could get started on the non-poison-tasting cough syrup. By the time it's invented and gets FDA approval, I'll probably still be in need of it. This cold isn't going away anytime soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Doctor Is Out

I'm sick. Sick sick sick. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat, which engulfed my entire head by the early afternoon. By the time I left for school at 5 (to take a test, of course) it felt like someone had opened my skull, removed my brain, and refilled the cavity with sand. If Sylar hasn't used that torture on anyone yet, he should, it's brutal. I came home with a killer headache, sinus pressure, earache, sore throat, and went to bed at 8:30.

By the time Ryan came to bed at 11, I had the chills and hadn't slept at all. He got me some medicine and fell asleep. I laid in bed listening to Ryan snore with my entire face throbbing to the beat of "Conga" by Gloria Estefan (Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga!) I eventually went downstairs and cuddled up with my personal space heater - my laptop. At 1 a.m. I went back upstairs, listened to an audiobook until the snoring blessedly ended, and fell asleep at 1:30.

There was no question in my mind - as soon as I got out of bed this morning, I was on the phone with the doctor, making an appointment. The last time I was seriously ill was last February when I came down with strep throat on the day of Ryan's sister's wedding in St. George. I had to pack for the entire family, load it all in the car, and then shake with the chills all the way down there. I saw a family picture from that day - I looked atrocious. No, really I looked like I was sullen and angry, but I swear it was just being miserably sick. It takes such an effort to smile, and even when you think you're faking it, the proof is in the photo. So, off to the doctor for me.

The problem was there was one more symptom that I was sure the doctor wouldn't be able to cure - guilt. Darcey, my beautiful little 21-month-old girl, has been dribbling snot out of her nose like a leaky showerhead. And it wasn't pretty, clear snot - it was colorful and disgusting. I hate snot worse than anything. I have a friend who is vomit-phobic, and she nearly caused me to toss my cookies a couple of weeks ago when she described a booger-related incident. If God made these bodies, why on earth did He have to include such vile processes as mucus production? That's just one of the things I'm going to take up with Him when the time comes.

Sorry, lost my train of thought. Oh yeah, Darcey's runny nose had been bad for going on 10 days now, with the accompanying grouchiness, occasional fever, some pus in the corners of her eyes (GROSS!!) and today, a cough. But for all of these symptoms, I had not taken her to the doctor. I had many well-thought out reasons for this. First of all, you cannot take a kid to the doctor for having a runny nose. Not even if the nose is pouring the entire contents of the Niagara Falls out of it, it's just not a doctor-worthy symptom. Same with grouchiness. If there was a pill to cure grouchiness, trust me, I would have been all over that a while ago. The fever WAS doctor-worthy, but that happened over the weekend, so I had to decide if it was $25-Instacare worthy. I had decided on Sunday that if she still had a fever on Monday, I'd take her in. By then, no fever.

On top of all of that rationalization, there's one other factor. I hate taking my kids to the doctor and finding out that there's nothing wrong with them. I have done that (with suspected ear infections, mostly) so many times that I think I err on the side of not taking them in. I know that none of the doctors I've seen over the years have meant to make me feel this way, but I end up feeling less confident in my maternal instincts when the grouchy-sleepless-ear rubbing child is deemed in perfect health. Additionally, I have this pervasive sense that I am wasting the doctor's time. I'm convinced that the doctor who just looked in my child's perfectly normal ear is thinking, "I spent $100,000 and 11 years of my life training to SAVE PEOPLE'S LIVES and now I'm stuck dealing with morons like you." (Disclaimer - my doctor, and also my pediatrician friend, are both two of the nicest guys ever, and probably don't think that. But I think if I were a doctor, I might.)

Since I was so clearly ill, I thought I'd make an appointment for Darcey too, and just assuage my guilt a little. Ease a symptom, so to speak. I rattled off our issues and various aches and pains. I answered the doctor's questions: How long has Darcey been sick? 10 days. And you? Since yesterday morning, but I've been really miserable the whole day! Naturally, what did the doctor find? Darcey has a double ear infection. I have a cold.

He gave Darcey a prescription for antibiotics, and just for kicks he gave me one too, since he's learned that most of his patients come for medicine regardless of if it can cure them (if it's viral, it won't). However, he underestimates me - I'm not here for medicine, I'm here for vindication! I want a diagnosis, preferably a heinous one that fits exactly how miserable I'm feeling! I want to be told, whoa, you are really sick! Nothing life threatening, of course, but I want a latin word that sounds just as grotesque as I'm feeling - fistuloid blastaloma, or Grimms-Blaugh Disease. I want someone with a medical degree to say, yes, I understand that you feel like crap, so I bestow upon you the title of Sufferer and order you to bed. Instead, I get one more strike against my medical-predictive powers and an extra dose of guilt for assuming my 24 hours of illness trumped Darcey's 10 days.

Part of me wants to say, Well, if only Darcey could talk, she could explain exactly what is hurting, and to what degree, and then I'd know to Take It Seriously. Yes, what I'm asking for in essence is an increase in articulate whining. The other part of me wants to switch to a new doctor, one who doesn't know that I swing back and forth between hyper-attention to illness and "brush it off, you'll be fine." That would buy me a couple of years before being so embarrassed I'd have to switch again.

So, needless to say, I don't feel so good. For a variety of reasons. Darcey's going to start feeling better soon, which is good because her next doctor's visit was going to be for the Kleenex burn under her nose.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

One thing I've always prided myself on is my independence. I think my parents bred me to be that way. When I was a tween, back before the word "tween" was invented, my mom would drop me off at the mall with some friends, where we'd go to Friendly's and order ice cream and sit in a booth and basically pretend we were grown-ups. During family trips to amusement parks, I'd be allowed to go off by myself and meet back at a certain time, which led me to spending many, many hours on the Skyride at Busch Gardens because that was about as adventurous as I got. (Come to think of it, did they let me go by myself or MAKE me go so they didn't have to do the Skyride so much?) I was allowed to wander down Broadway by myself in New York and spend the day by myself in Colonial Williamsburg, where I bought myself a double scoop of black raspberry and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Apparently, independence equals ice cream in my mind.

My independence training culminated in my cross-country trip from Maryland to California a week after I turned 18. People have told me how brave it was for me to do that alone, but to be honest, it didn't take bravery - it took a combination of naivete and ability to not go nuts after 5 days with no one to talk to. (My parents were the brave ones, and I confess that I can only imagine letting my kids do the same thing if they had a cell phone and a AAA card.)

I had only been away from home for 18 months when I got married, and had to learn what independence means in the context of a lifelong commitment to another person. Clearly, this precluded any more cross-country solo drives, but did it mean that I was now Krazy Glued to another human being, til death do you part? This was one of the many adjustments that two people who come from different families have to figure out.

We've learned to compromise over the years. We each get time out of the house to do things we love, like school and girl's nights for me and snowboarding for him. But with each child we had, the weight of our dependents has squashed my dreams of independence. I'm tethered to five other people, and don't get me wrong - I love these people like crazy - but in choosing a family, I gave up a certain amount of freedom, and I miss it.

So I was excited when Ryan decided to take Brad and Noah to Arizona for a long weekend, in order to see the Dodgers at spring training. Excited that Ryan would want to take a mini-vacation on his own, excited that the boys got to do something fun, and yes, excited that I'd have the house half to myself for a little while. Darcey and Zack are the harder set of kids, but they're easily entertained and go to bed early. They also don't have opinions, so if I wanted to eat out, they wouldn't negotiate with me - I could go where I wanted. Grasping at straws, maybe, but this seemed like a little taste of independence to me.

They've been gone since Friday, and it's interesting - being alone is a lot lonelier than I thought it would be. I love being able to go to bed whenever I want, but there's no one there to peer pressure me into getting up on time for church. I love that I can sit and read or watch tv and no one interrupts me, but it's also eerily quiet in the house for long stretches of the day. (This is when Zack is playing with friends and Darcey's sleeping, but even when they're both here, it's still so quiet.) I didn't realize how much I'd miss having someone to talk to; I don't even have anything to say, I just want that basic human interaction. And I realized how much Ryan and I share the burdens of the household - with him gone, it'd be up to me to kill any spiders, change any lightbulbs, figure out what's wrong with the garage door opener. Maybe I didn't incorporate enough ice cream into this weekend; all I know is that independence isn't what I remembered it to be.

I still like being alone. I'm okay with myself, I like solitude - to a certain extent. But I'm seeing that the idealized picture of me roaming the world without a care, free as a bird - not only is that never going to happen, I don't want it to happen. When we were in Europe last year, I ended up leaving 3 of my kids with my parents and going to the Louvre by myself. This was something I had always dreamed of - cosmopolitan woman, in Paris, it was so chic. But when I was on the train into the city, it didn't feel chic - it felt lonely. I remember regretting not having someone there to share this experience with. So you can imagine my joy when I found Ryan and Brad walking out of the same wing I was walking into. I was so happy to spend that evening in Paris with two of the people I love most in the world.

Why do I forget that sometimes? I think it's the constant demands for attention from four kids and a husband that make an independent person cry out for a little breathing room, a little space to stretch my legs. It's easy to get swallowed up in family life and forget that there's anything else to you. I think I'm still going to want that break sometimes - a weekend to myself, or a mini-vacation with a couple of kids. I'm grateful that our marriage vows didn't require Krazy Glue to hold us together permanently. What's that old cliche? If you love something, send it to Arizona for the weekend. If it comes back, you'll appreciate it more. Or something like that.

I still have one day left before the boys come home. Let's see if some ice cream doesn't make this all better.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Well, it's time to face facts: February sucks eggs. I could not be happier to see that month end, and don't the let the door hit you on the way out. I feel like I've been living at the bottom of a dark pit, with no light or energy. March has entered with so much warmth and sunshine that, even though I know it won't last, I feel like we've got reason to hope that this month will be better than last. It can't be worse.

I thought that, to celebrate the end of such a crappy month, I'd revisit some topics that I've written about before. Kind of an update. But don't think of it as a cop-out, it's not that I can't think of a new topic to write about. Honest. Think of it more as an enhanced blog, it's always evolving, always fresh and new. (Okay, plus I have had a headache for like three weeks and so maybe the topics aren't flowing as fast as normal.)

My hair:
I can't remember if I blogged about this incident, or if it was only a status update on Facebook, but I wanted to let you know that my bangs have successfully grown back. I am no longer stuck with my only styling option being the "Conan O'Brien" which isn't very pretty on him, either. Although on some days I was able to achieve the "Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice" look, for a change. This new hair challenge happened after I, very misguidedly, decided to trim my own bangs. Bad, bad idea. Next time I want to save myself the effort of going to a stylist, instead I'm going to draw some bangs on a piece of paper, attempt to cut them in a straight line, fail, and once I've got that out of my system, make an appointment with a professional.

Cooking Dinner and Joy Units:
This is a two-fer update. I've mentioned that sometimes it's impossible to cook food that anyone in this family will eat on a regular basis, and I've mentioned the diminishing returns on Christmas presents. Well, for Christmas Ryan got me a cookbook that has defied both expectations. It's called "Rachel Ray: 365 - No Repeats" which I think is fairly self-explanatory. The amazing things are these: 1) Most of the meals I've cooked the kids will eat, and occasionally actually enjoy! 2) I've used the cookbook almost exclusively for the last two months. I still throw in a lot of old standby meals, but when I want to try something new, three or four nights a week, that's the book I use. That, I have to say, is quite impressive. In terms of successful Christmas present, this ranks up there with Zack's lego men for most-used gift.

If last semester was the Mr. Hyde of school experiences, this semester is definitely Dr. Jekyll. (He was the nice one. I think.) I'm only taking one class, and we've had so many Mondays off of school that I feel like I'm only taking half a class. Plus the teacher is super-easy - short reading assignments, one paper for the entire term, it's a piece of cake. Maybe it just helps knowing what my expectations should be, but I'm sailing through this semester. Someone might need to nudge me when it's over.

Sick Children:
I wrote a month ago about whether to let a child who is coughing *a little bit* go to a birthday party, and decided to let him. In retrospect, I think I might have preferred to take a moral high ground in this dilemma and keep him home. Since then I have seen children so far beyond sick playing with other kids, like no one's ever heard the word "contagion" before. I know that what is one person's minor cold is another person's SARS, but believe you me, I will be so happy when this winter is over and I don't have coughing children in my house (my own or otherwise).

I've been pretty consistent about going to the gym since about September. I aim to go every weekday, but I just realized today that almost every week has a day where I have to cancel. But still, four days a week is very impressive for a person who has never been physically capable in her life, who in fact has been known to sneak to the back of the softball line-up to avoid having to take a turn at bat. Not the active, athletic type, me. I still attend Zumba on Tuesdays and I have to say I really, really enjoy it. I probably still look like a complete dweeb, but this month the instructor is recycling some routines and because I'm familiar with it, I feel like I can put some effort into actually looking coordinated. It helps that the last couple of weeks some men have been attending, so clearly I'm not going to be the lowest common denominator. That helps. But - coincidentally? - there's also been an incredibly under-dressed young woman there which does not help the ol' self-esteem. And I haven't lost any weight, which frustrates me a tiny bit, but not a lot because I am also not really dieting, so what do I expect? Well, clearly I expect to still lose weight, but I recognize the irrationality of that statement.

Kitchen Remodel:
I might have done this one before. My dad has asked me for the last year for an update on the kitchen: now that I've lived in it, what is it that I like/don't like and what would I do over? In short, I adore the kitchen. For only having one shot, I think it turned out really well. My biggest complaint is the upper cupboard doors - they are what is called a "full overlay" which means that the door covers almost all of the cabinet and you don't see the edge of the cabinet underneath. The downside is that the doors can't open all the way - the hinges can only open like 60 or 65 degrees (can't remember) so when I'm unloading the dishwasher, the open cupboard door is whacking me in the shoulder. It is quite inelegant for an otherwise high-functioning kitchen. Also, I haven't gotten full use of the spice drawer, since Darcey learned to open it and dump paprika all over the floor. But other than that, we love the mail/keys/phone area at the end of the pantry, the dropped bar where the kids practically live, and the uninterrupted span of counter space now that the sink is on the far end. And my favorite thing of all might be the pull-out trash can right where I prep food, which keeps everything so much cleaner. It's awesome.

That's about it. Hopefully March will give me some great new blog topics, or at least not suck.